The rapeseed oil , also now known as canola oil , is extracted from the seeds of rapeseed, a plant species belonging to the family of Brassicaceae. Specifically, this type of oil is obtained from two plant species: Brassica napus and Brassica rapa . Both are grouped under the common name of rapeseed and have been cultivated for at least 4,000 years in India.
It is a cheap, profitable oil that also has beneficial nutritional properties for health. Although it is widely consumed in Europe in countries such as Germany or France, in Spain its use is limited to the industrial sector and for export, as a consequence of the serious health crisis that occurred in 1981 due to the consumption of this adulterated oil.
What is canola and what are the differences from rapeseed oil?
Rapeseed is a vegetable from whose seed oil is extracted and it is cultivated in the European Union, the main producer globally together with Canada, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and the Spanish Nutrition Foundation (FEN) . In this sense, they add, “conventional rape produces an oil with a very high erucic acid content.”
This fatty acid can be “harmful to health” by contributing to the formation of “fatty deposits in the heart” and that is why the main use of rapeseed oil has been in the industrial sector. However, since the early 1970s, rapeseed crops with very low amounts of this fatty acid have been selected for consumption .
This is how “canola” was developed, a variety of rape whose erucic acid levels are below 2%. Likewise, the amount of flucosinolates in the flour is also low. Thus, canola oil is “the most widely used in food in Canada and in other countries,” they say.
What are its nutritional properties?
Canola is a source of nutrients and non-nutritive substances such as lipids, with a significant predominance of polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E. Rapeseed oil is “highly unsaturated” and is one of the vegetable fats “with the lowest content of saturated fatty acids “, they explain in the FEN.
On the other hand, it is composed of high contents of polyunsaturated fatty acids (around 28%) and is “very sensitive to oxidation”. The oleic-linoleic-oleic triglyceride in canola oil stands out as it represents about a quarter of the total composition. In addition, it contains a significant percentage of brassicasterol . On the other hand, the presence of vitamin E stands out and, as with other vegetable oils, it does not contain minerals.